In far south Lake Charles — six miles south of Burton Coliseum — sits a long metal building behind a salon that holds little more than a runway, a landing mat, some poles and a couple of fans.
The building is home to the Bayou Vault Club, a group of young area pole-vaulters that will be represented by nine athletes at the upcoming USA Track and Field Junior Olympics in Sacramento, Calif. It begins on July 25.
“For kids to come in and be brand new to the sport and brand new to the club scene and have the success they’ve had, words can’t describe how much it speaks to them,” said Bayou Vault Club head coach Cameron Meyer.
Meyer — former Hamilton Christian and Stephen F. Austin pole-vaulter and 2015 Southland Conference champion in the event— said the opportunity to coach these young athletes and help them achieve success has been a dream come true.
“Ever since I was in middle school, I’ve wanted to coach every sport I’ve ever been involved in,” Meyer said. “This has really been a great opportunity to capture that dream of coaching.”
The Bayou Vault Club is very much a family affair. Cameron’s father, Tim Meyer, created the club while Cameron was a senior at SFA. His younger brother, Gabe Meyer, and his cousin, Brock Meyer, are both members of the club who qualified for the Junior Olympics.
Gabe, an incoming freshman at St. Louis Catholic High School, who also qualified in the javelin throw, said the sport was hard to avoid considering he’d been surrounded by it for a good portion of his life.
“Growing up in a family like ours, everybody’s trying to beat everybody,” Gabe said. “It’s a race to see who can be the best right now. Both of my siblings are doing great things right now, so I have to get up there. I’m the youngest one so I have to beat them.”
Club members range from 13 to 18 years old, and all have different levels of experience.
Brock Meyer is 13 years old, but despite his young age, starting less than six months ago, he has a personal record of 11 feet and qualified for the trip to Sacramento.
“Without BVC, I wouldn’t be anything right now,” Brock said. “They’re the ones that got me started, and they’re the reason I’m excelling so quickly. Cameron’s there to support me, and he’s teaching me a lot of good things.”
On the other side of the spectrum is Adriano Theriot, a South Cameron graduate who will vault for McNeese beginning next season.
Theriot’s father built the facility that the Bayou Vault Club practices in, and he said he’s thankful to the group for helping him earn the opportunity to compete at the college level.
The group also has two female vaulters who qualified, including Iowa junior Tabitha Seiford, who enters the event with a personal record of 11 feet and hopes the club can help her earn a college scholarship for vaulting.
“I love to pole-vault, and I hope I get to do this past high school,” Seiford said. “I love everything about it, really. Just being able to be great at it — it’s just really fun.”
Cameron Meyer said he hopes this is just the beginning for the Bayou Vault Club, and that the accomplishments his athletes have recently achieved are just the first of many.
“Words can’t really describe it,” Cameron Meyer said. “And it’s not just Sacramento. It’s each personal record, each meet. … Just to see the smile on their faces and hear them say ‘I qualified for this’ or ‘I jumped this high,’ it’s amazing. Words cannot say how excited I am just to have this opportunity.”